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Douglas Promenade festoon lighting: Council Leader sets record straight

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 16:14

'The festoon lighting on Douglas promenade is no longer fit for purpose and would not meet modern lighting standards,’ Council Leader David Christian MBE JP has said.


Councillor Christian was responding to widespread misinformation circulating regarding the Council’s unanimous decision to replace the ageing festoon lighting with a new LED scheme as part of the promenade redevelopment project.

Much of what has been said and written – including a petition calling for the lights’ reinstatement – has been factually incorrect and it’s time to set the record straight.

‘The matter of replacing the festoon lighting with a new LED scheme has been in the public domain for more than three years – and referred to in three consecutive Council budgets, the contents of which were made public.


‘The Council respects and is committed to preserving the rich history of Douglas but there is much more to the town’s heritage than decorative lighting that is nearing the end of its life and becoming increasingly costly to maintain.


‘The festoons have performed sterling service for many years so, far from doing away with them altogether, they have been re-purposed and installed in Summerhill Glen and along the North Quay.


‘The Council has invested more than £800,000 in new bespoke LED lighting for the length of the promenade as part of the overall promenade redevelopment scheme. Importantly, the new scheme will provide safer lighting for pedestrians and motorists.


‘The new LED lanterns also offer cost savings - estimated to be in the region of 16 per cent cheaper to run than the old scheme – so in the long term will represent less of a burden on Douglas ratepayers.


‘This new scheme is no off-the-shelf product. The new columns are bespoke, commissioned expressly for Douglas and there are no others like them anywhere else in the world.


‘This is a customised scheme that will reflect the promenade’s important role as a gateway to the capital of the Isle of Man.


‘We are a Council proud of our town’s past, but we are also a Council that looks to the future and the new lighting scheme is very much part of that future.’


The new LED lighting scheme: the facts


• The festoon lighting was manufactured according to the spacing and placement of the original promenade columns. Each section of festoon was specific to the two columns between which the festoon was suspended. The new columns, which meet modern day standards, are spaced differently and the existing festoon will not fit. Joining sections in a marine environment is not recommended.


• The new columns are built to purpose. They have been designed in terms of loading for banners, hanging baskets and the lantern itself.


• The columns benefit from low-energy LED lanterns which are cheaper to run and better for the environment. The energy cost per annum for the old scheme was £38,500 and the new scheme is anticipated to be £32,000, a saving of approximately 16 per cent before dimming, which will further improve savings. The light is directional, will be less intrusive and supports the Island’s Dark Sky and Biosphere partner status.


• The highway light is complemented by a colour wash light to the rear of the column, which will light the walkway and gardens in an array of colour not previously possible with the old arrangement and festoon lighting. Colour lighting is reported to be beneficial to sufferers of neurological conditions.


• The columns also benefit from a colour-changing finial at the top. The finial and backlight can be colour changed on command and easily programmed to provide a series of changeable colour lighting displays and effects which will be more striking and dramatic than the original festoon arrangement.


• The new lights will be fully controllable remotely, enabling them to be dimmed as needed at certain times of day. Columns can be controlled individually. The computer control also allows automatic fault reporting, enabling issues to be resolved in a quick and cost-efficient way.


• The new lighting scheme has improved lighting in the shopping zones.


• The new scheme is primarily single sided, which reduces clutter and increases pedestrian space, has lower maintenance and installation costs and reduces energy consumption which will support the Isle of Man Government in meeting its climate change agenda.